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Playing with the Meaning

Jen Selinsky

Copyright © 2018 by Jen Selinsky

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Cover Art Copyright © 1996 by Jen Selinsky

ISBN: 9780463780879



*Not every work included in this book is dated in chronological order.  This is not an oversight on my part. Rather, I have made changes and substitutions over the years.

-J.L.S.



Description

The weight of the chocolate feels heavy in my hand, but that’s because there’s something inside it. The monster tinfoil wrapping, dominated by greens and yellows, awaits my decision – almost daring me to look inside. I start unwrapping very slowly, starting at the head and peer inside. It seems like it has melted in a few places before I brought it inside from the heat of the car. The smell seems like that of average chocolate and brings me back to my childhood. Looking at this morsel closer, I see a friendly-looking chocolate dog. I hope I don’t get a bellyache eating this! The chocolate tastes better than it smells. I am actually enjoying it more as it melts and sticks to my mouth. I feel like my entire throat is being coated in flavor as it moves down. I notice that it’s already begun to melt, so I lick if off the foil, my fingers, and the yellow and orange container which it’s clinging to. The gooey mess has become too much to handle, so I go into the bathroom and wash off the remainder of the chocolate from the container and my hands, with soap and water, before freeing the captive creature. I pop open the container and listen to it crack as it reveals the doglike little creature inside. According to the little leaflet, the creature is called Nap and is a Honeygum Yowie. It is not threatened like its unluckier friends. These fictional creatures are designed to raise awareness regarding the environment and endangered species. I’ve always loved that new, plastic smell!

9/9/16



Layers

The foil wrapper is meant to attract only those who are meant to see what lies underneath all these layers—the real me!

Those who want only the pretty package, and there are plenty of those around, shall not have me. I am displayed around so many others who have the same twinkling exteriors. So many of them are hollow, and it makes me sad. It was not their choice, and they do not know what they’re missing.

But the special ones will also come seeking; they will come for me and others who have much more substance. They are the only ones who deserve to know what I am really like.

The false exterior should be the first thing to go; the anticipation will almost be too much for their nimble fingers and curious minds.

The next layer holds my casing. It may be sticky, but it’s also sweet. Earth tones will melt as the special, chosen ones will delight in getting to the third layer.

After a fair amount of time has elapsed, the final casing shall be held in their hands. They may have rattled me around before, and they might do so again. Now, some of the guesswork has already been eliminated.

With a final breath, they split the casing in half and behold the hidden meaning which they had first sought when they encountered me. And the greatest thing for them is the fact that such meaning does not have to be disposed of; they get to carry it.

9/21/16



Showcase

I had been anticipating the Jackson County Public Library’s Author Fair since I heard about it in April. It was first and foremost in mind when it came to my writing, even though other events later followed.

At first, I’d agreed to be their keynote speaker, and I was very excited about the opportunity. I have to admit that I was also a little nervous, as I am quite the novice when it comes to speaking in front of crowds.

That was during my and Kathi’s first “meeting” while we ate lunch. We’d all but shook hands and agreed on the entire thing, even though we literally did shake hands later on.

I was slightly disappointed when I later received an e-mail from Kathi stating that the director had changed things around a little. Instead, they decided to have a panel of author speak then take questions. She said that I could be a part of the panel if I would like, and replied, “Yes.”

I was disappointed to later find out that I was not going to be a part of the panel, but at least I kept my spot as a featured author! The upset would have been nothing which I wanted to handle.

The anticipating kept building up, as I told many of my friends, family members, and various others about my upcoming book signing. I did not hesitate to keep mentioning the day and time in hopes that some would be able to attend.

I did not think I would get any sleep the night before, but I did manage, especially as I set the alarm for 8:20!

I awoke the next morning, eager to see how many sales and connections I would make.

One thing which bothered me was the rain. I don’t like driving in it, and I especially don’t like having to go outside in it, either. Part of me figured that it would keep people from coming into the library.

But I was determined to make this a positive experience, so I made my way into the building and inquired about where I was supposed to go. She said she wasn’t quite sure and that I should wait for Kathi.

Moments later, she arrived downstairs and told me that I could get everything set up once I reached my table. I would be selling my books upstairs.

I was a little disappointed because I didn’t think that anyone would want to come up when some of the other authors were downstairs.

Still, I was happy that I had a spot by the window, where people could see me sitting, eager for business. Aside from that, I had a whole table to myself, which just barely gave me all the room I needed.

As I’d feared, the rain seemed to keep a lot of people out, as the beginning was very slow. I spent much of the first half hour staring at the large clock on the wall opposite from where I was seated.

A few moments later, Kathi came by and apologized for the fact that not many people were coming by and that business should pick up soon.

The first person who came up to my table showed her interest in my work, but she did not purchase anything. I gave her a flyer advertising my upcoming Louisville event, and one of her comments was that my English teachers would be proud.

Several more minutes had passed, and I noticed a man with a microphone talking to one of the authors downstairs. I thought he was her husband and that he was helping her promote her books. One of my first thoughts was, Why didn’t I think of something like that? I paid no more attention to it until Kathi came by the tables again and told us that someone from the radio was interviewing the authors, but they would be leaving at 11:00. I checked the clock outside, which read 10:35, hoping against hope that they would get to me before time was up.

Unfortunately, they stopped after interviewing a gentleman a few authors before my table. I was tempted to walk back over there and tell them that my mother used to work for John Mellencamp in a last, desperate attempt to get their attention.

When I got over to the man with the microphone, however, I changed my mind because he was still talking to the older gentleman, the WWII vet. I did not want to interrupt their conversation, nor did I want to make myself sound more important than anyone else. Feeling slightly defeated, I headed back to my table.

During the slow times, I talked to the woman behind me. She and her granddaughter seemed nice, so the author and I talked conversed we were old friends.

I ended up selling three copies of my books, but I desperately wanted to make it four—that would have broken my recent record. It was a struggle to even sell the third—a copy of Springtime in London to a woman after I marked the price down to $7.00. (A kind woman also bought a copy of First Generation Abroad and Delightful Desserts.)

By the time the crowd started thinning out, some of the authors packed up their things and left, especially as a few of them were on the Q&A panel to finish the day.

There were only two or three authors left by the time I saw a lone student walking over to our general area. No doubt, she was looking for the authors. I directed her over to my table in an attempt to get her to buy something. When she told me that she didn’t have any money, I didn’t want to push things. I was just pleased that she wanted to interview me for her school paper. I tried another tactic by offering her some candy.

I liked the entire process of the interview, as it made me feel like a celebrity. Sara asked some good questions and seemed impressed when I told her how much I wrote. We parted ways by me gibing her a copy of the poems I had published in Explorer Magazine. And I urged her to send me a copy of the interview after it was published.

Sara said she would e-mail it to me before heading over to interview my new friend.

It was about 2:50, and I thought it would be futile to wait and see if I could make any more sales.

Just as I was headed out the door, Kathi came by and thanked me for being a part of the event. I told her to sign me up for the next one, despite the fact that she said they usually only hold one every two years. There’s no way I’m going to pass up such an opportunity when it does come around again!

Shortly after I got home, I went online and saw the e-mail which she had sent everyone, thanking us for being a part of the event. I quickly responded by thanking her for having me.

And, while the day wasn’t a complete washout, I had hoped for better. It would be nothing compared to the Kentuckiana Authors’ Book Blitz, which I would attend tomorrow.

10/4/16



Booked Hall

The day following my trip to the Jackson County Public Library, I headed to Jeffersonville for the Kentuckiana Authors’ Book Blitz. Since I had found out about the event a little too late, I couldn’t participate as a seller this year, but I did tell one of the coordinators that I am definitely interested in next year’s event.

The only thing which threw me for a loop is that it costs $80.00 per table, but that’s the price one must pay in order to advance his or her career. Besides, I can always split a table with one my friends if any of them are interested.

The V.I.P. package, however, was only $6.00 per person. It included early entrance by one hour, a bad of goodies, and a chance to win the grand prize of a basket of books. I later found out that I didn’t win, but that did not take away from my enjoyment of the day.

It was nice getting a “head start,” as I began to network with many of the authors in attendance. Some of them I knew before, and others were new to me. One thing which surprised me the most was when I saw some of my new friends from the Corydon-based Southern Indiana Writers’ Group.

I was relieved when they were glad to see me, as I was worried that I’d made a bad first impression at the first meeting I attended. We talked for a while, and I had the few who were there sign copies of the anthologies which I had purchased and received for free.

I kept telling everyone how much I liked the location, and I didn’t hesitate to let them know how much I was looking forward to walking the pedestrian bridge afterward, as it was only about a block and a half away.

The only thing which I didn’t like was the lunch, which consisted of sandwiches containing certain foods which I do not care for. I was curious about the whole description because I thought there would be light refreshments at most.

Of course, even though I didn’t like the food, that didn’t stop me from drinking no less than three cups of water and nibbling on a few of the snacks which the authors had provided. I brought most of them home for Travis.

After a few hours of making connections and taking a few moments to scribble down my thoughts, I decided that it was time to change my clothes and walk the pedestrian bridge.

After I prepared myself, my MP3 player cued to Peter Gabriel, I started on my journey. I was a little intimidated because I looked down the length of the bridge and noticed that it would be a long walk. The other thing which bothered me was the fact that I’m afraid of heights, and I wasn’t crazy about being so far off the ground. But I was determined to complete the journey. If I could walk for two hours around my neighborhood, then I could do this!

From the moment that I got on the main part of the bridge, I knew that I was going to enjoy my journey. My husband’s digital camera was in my pocket, and I wasted virtually no time in taking photos as I walked by and enjoyed the scenery.

After I crossed over to Louisville, I walked about the perimeter of the park and wondered why I hadn’t done this before. I knew that the journey back would be a breeze; I was having so much fun that I didn’t want the talk to end.

By the time I got back to the Jeffersonville side, I already had plenty of pictures, and I’d planned on taking some more, as I was going to walk around the block a little. I tried to get a picture of Schimpff’s Confectionary, but the camera’s battery died, and I couldn’t take any more pictures. I saw that as my cue to head back to the building. I must have been a sight with my sweaty clothes and wind-blown hair, but that didn’t really matter as I told some of the people that I was going to walk on the bridge. I even asked one of the authors how long I’d been gone, and she supposed that it was about an hour.

I mingled and talked for a little more, but I knew that I wanted to get back home soon. While the walk had not worn me out, I was beginning to feel tired, and I wanted to take a nap.

Shortly after, that’s just what I did, but not before telling Travis and calling Mom—relaying the wonderful events of the day. I then closed my eyes and let my unconscious mind take me on another journey.

10/6/16



January Walk

2018 has been a record year for the number of times I walked The Big Four Bridge in January. Though three might not sound like an impressive number to any bridge or fitness enthusiast, it was good enough for someone like me, as I have a strong aversion to cold. On January 26, 2018, I noticed some beauty within the sky. The clouds were scattered and allowed for little patches of blue to be seen in between. I retrieved my phone and pointed it straight up at my target as not to miss another breathtaking moment of God's beauty! Once I saw what my camera app had captured, I was quite pleased. That day was just another example of how I find so many interesting and wonderful things to photograph during my trips to this beloved landmark which, quite literally, bridges the gap between Jeffersonville, Indiana and Louisville, Kentucky.

*previously published in Pen It! Magazine Volume 9: Issue 1

January/February 2018

2/2/18



I don’t know

What to say to

A man who’s

Inspired me so much!

10/12/16



Mind Over Matter

Due to circumstances over which I had no control, I found myself distracted from the author event which I had been looking forward to. (Our furnace overflowed and leaked water into our carpet again.) My negative preoccupation didn’t allow me to think about much else.

Once the crisis was dealt with, I found that it was not so easy to let go of my worry. But I knew that I wouldn’t have to be home for part of that Saturday. Going to the event would keep my mind off the still-damp carpet.

I awoke, and the day was pleasant enough. I showered, ate breakfast, and underwent my morning rituals quietly and decided to leave the house around noon. I didn’t really need to be there until between 1:00 and 1:30, so I thought I was allowing myself plenty of time to get there. Little did I know how wrong I was!

Everything went smoothly during the first part of my voyage but, then, I hit the traffic jam. I made an audible boo sound, not realizing how long I would be stuck in this mess.

After the first twenty or thirty minutes, I began to lost patience. Before then, I sat there and listened to Genesis while trying to remain calm. I was tempted to honk the horn as a stream of frustrated words flew out of my mouth.

It was already about 1:30 when I really lost it. More curse words flew mercilessly about as I could tell, in my mind, that I was not going to make it to the library on time. How would I ever get a chance to set up my table?

Just when I didn’t think I could take anymore, the traffic started moving toward the Lincoln Bridge. There was still a lot of congestion around that area, but at least I would be in Kentucky soon, and the Louisville Free Public Library would not be much farther from there.

I had the old GPS with us, whose volume had yet to be fixed, and I got off at the St. Catherine exit. Though I was still feeling a little stressed because of the time, I smiled when I passed Spaulding University, where I hope to one day attend classes.

Even though I was close to reaching my destination, I was still flustered. All that only seemed to increase when I found out that I had to pay for parking, which would have been all right if I only had any quarters!

After talking to the kind woman next to me, thus discovering that my voice was hoarse from all the screaming and cursing, I decided to park my car next to hers.

She produced some quarters and fed the meter. I thanked her profusely and offered two dollar bills in an attempt to pay her back, which she did not accept.

After thanking her again, I rushed into the building. It was disorienting because of its size. The helpful woman behind the desk told me where to go to reach the event.

After I made my way downstairs and into the Centennial Room, I was relieved to find that others were just setting up and that the Skype program had not yet started.

I introduced myself to Rachel and told her how sorry I was that I was late because of the traffic. She said it was all right and that they were talking about it earlier.


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